Spectacular Summer season Container Designs: Half 1

Summer season is the season all gardeners await. The intense solar and heat climate sign the beginning of the showiest time of 12 months, and nowhere is that this pleasure extra evident than with container gardening. Backyard shops are overflowing with crops and pots in each shade, measurement, type, and form. Whether or not you lean towards tropicals or are obsessed with succulents, summer season is the season to indicate off your abilities. To get you began, we’ve assembled a couple of designs by Julie Chai of San Francisco and Riz Reyes of Seattle (for Riz’s designs, see half 2 of this text). We invite you to faucet into their creativity—and to broaden upon their suggestions—to make this your finest container season but.

A pot ought to swimsuit its environment

container with various green foliage plants

A pot should suit its surroundings container illustrated and labeled

Few sounds are as soothing as streaming water, and a container that accompanies it should even be mild. Right here, an upright blue-green agave and a variegated euphorbia mimic the fountain’s column, whereas a cascading candy potato vine and a calibrachoa resemble spilling water.

  1. ‘Ray of Mild’ varie­gated foxtail agave (Agave attenuata ‘Ray of Mild’, USDA Hardiness Zones 9–11)
  2. ‘Tasmanian Tiger’ euphorbia (Euphorbia characias ‘Tasmanian Tiger’, Zones 7–10)
  3. ‘Candy Caroline Mild Inexperienced’ candy potato vine (Ipomoea batatas ‘Candy Caroline Mild Inexperienced’, Zone 11)
  4. Superbells® Yellow Chiffon calibrachoa (Calibrachoa ‘USCALI4021’, annual)


Join the dots

container with yellow flowers and grass plumes

Connect the dots container illustrated and labeled

All planters want a focus. Right here, the wispy fountain grass does the trick with out bullying its neighbors. What makes this planting much more attention-grabbing, nonetheless, is the best way the golden plumes of the grass decide up on the yellow of the yarrow and zinnia whereas on the similar time set up a reference to the comfortable leaves of the licorice plant.

  1. ‘Moonshine’ yarrow (Achillea ‘Moonshine’, Zones 3–8)
  2. Tsavo™ Yellow Ice creeping zinnia (Sanvitalia procumbens ‘Tsavo Yellow Ice’, annual)
  3. Crimson bunny tails fountain grass (Pennisetum messiacum, Zones 7–9)
  4. Licorice plant (Helichrysum petiolare, annual)


Quiet compositions for quiet areas

container with succulents on a table next to two larger white pots with foliage plants

Quiet compositions for quiet spaces containers illustrated and labeled

The location of containers could be as necessary because the crops themselves. The quiet colours of the compositions listed below are nicely suited to a seating space, however the thrilling tapestry of textures ensures that the vignette is something however boring.

  1. Echeverias (Echeveria spp., Zones 9–11)
  2. Agave (Agave attenuata sp., Zones 7–11)
  3. ‘Glacier Blue’ spurge (Euphorbia characias ‘Glacier Blue’, Zones 7–10)
  4. Creeping Jenny (Lysimachia nummularia*, Zones 4–8)
  5. Lambs’ ears (Stachys byzantina, Zones 4–8)
  6. ‘Silverdust’ dusty miller (Senecio cineraria ‘Silverdust’, annual)


Nothing is extra irritating than having one plant that requires extra water than one other in the identical pot. In such a case, it’s practically inconceivable to maintain each plant completely satisfied and looking out good, particularly within the warmth of summer season. Learn tags rigorously, and choose your crops primarily based on their water and fertilizing wants as a lot as their appears to be like.

Black is again

two concrete containers with pink flowers and dark foliage

Black is back containers illustrated and labled

Black crops lend containers a way of journey, particularly when the companion crops are mild coloured. However the placement of dark-leaved crops is essential. The black crops in these two containers create a zigzag impact, breaking apart the mass of softer pink and purple crops whereas giving every of them a lifetime of their very own.

  1. ‘Platinum Wallaby’ mulla mulla (Ptilotus ‘Platinum Wallaby’, Zones 9–10)
  2. Vertigo® pearl millet (Pennisetum purpureum* ‘Tift 8’, Zones 8–11)
  3. Supertunia® White Russian petunia (Petunia ‘Kerivoryvein’, annual)
  4. ‘Candy Caroline Bewitched’ candy potato vine (Ipomoea batatas ‘Candy Caroline Bewitched’, Zone 11)
  5. ‘Heatwave Glitter’ salvia (Salvia microphylla ‘Heatwave Glitter’, Zones 6–9)
  6. ‘Palace Purple’ heuchera (Heuchera micrantha ‘Palace Purple’, Zones 3–8)
  7. ‘Everillo’ sedge (Carex oshimensis ‘Everillo’, Zones 6–9)
  8. Fan flower (Scaevola aemula cv., annual)


Embrace dark-leaved crops with warning. Deep burgundy, black, or purple foliage works nicely to anchor a planting. However watch out: Too many black-hued crops can render a container boring and drab. Combine them with light-colored crops to diffuse the drama.

Stability flowers and foliage

white container with light purple flowers and fine foliage plants

Balance flowers and foliage container illustrated and labeled

The usage of foliage is essential in containers the place flowering crops have comparable habits. The positioning of the sedge right here separates the blousy lobelia and euphorbia, whereas the ample silver leaves of a draping snow-in-summer completes the ensemble. The splash of blue, which breaks up the dominant silver-whites, provides a pleasant shock.

  1. Breathless™ White euphorbia (Euphorbia hypericifolia ‘Balbrewite’, annual)
  2. Amazon Mist™ sedge (Carex comans ‘Amazon Mist’, Zones 7–9)
  3. Laguna™ Sky Blue lobelia (Lobelia erinus ‘Loboudtis’, annual)
  4. Snow-in-summer (Cerastium tomentosum, Zones 3–7)


Camouflage undesirable components

square container with funky, tropical foliage

Camouflage undesirable elements container illustrated and labeled

What higher method to detract from the legginess of a yellow conebush than to plant one thing shiny coloured in entrance of it? The kangaroo paw attracts consideration away from the underside of the conebush whereas additionally choosing up the colour of its stems, permitting the conebush to indicate off its finest function: the leaves. A shiny, compact, low-growing sedum finishes the planting with extra distinction.

  1. ‘Safari Goldstrike’ yellow conebush (Leucadendron ‘Safari Goldstrike’, Zones 9–11)
  2. Kangaroo paw (Anigozanthos sp., Zones 10–11)
  3. Lemon Coral™ sedum (Sedum rupestre ‘Lemon Coral’, Zones 7–11)


Think about all colours

container with bright pink and yellow flowers

Consider all colors container illustrated and labeled

This shade mixture of crops may, at first look, seem incongruous, with the purple-pink angelonia conflicting considerably with the gold-and-red calibrachoa. However upon nearer inspection, all of the crops work completely collectively. The fuchsia-purple of the angelonia enhances the underside of the heuchera leaves, whereas the remainder of the heuchera pulls within the golden colours of the calibrachoa and sedge to create a harmonious entire.

  1. Orange New Zealand sedge (Carex testacea, Zones 7–9)
  2. Archangel™ Raspberry angelonia (Angelonia angustifolia ‘Archangel Raspberry’, annual)
  3. Superbells® Apricot Punch calibrachoa (Calibrachoa ‘USCALI4138’, annual)
  4. ‘Kassandra’ heuchera (Heuchera ‘Kassandra’, Zones 4–9)


“Shade” is a broad time period, so it’s necessary to know what sort you have got earlier than planting or it’s possible you’ll threat the well being of the plant. The intense shade of an east-facing space presents extra plant choices than dappled- or deep-shade areas. Examine the world through which you wish to plant, then buy crops accordingly.

Exhibit the shapes of succulents

tall blue container with low-growing succulents

Show off the shapes of succulents container illustrated and labeled

The rosettes of the 2 blue-pink echeverias alone would have regarded elegant atop a easy aqua container, however the addition of the lengthy, darker inexperienced string of bananas provides a contact of distinction, bringing out the most effective of each crops’ shapes.

  1. ‘Perle Von Nurnberg’ echeveria (Echeveria ‘Perle von Nurnberg’, Zones 9–11)
  2. ‘Woman Aquarius’ echeveria (Echeveria ‘Woman Aquarius’, Zones 9–11)
  3. String of bananas (Senecio radicans, Zones 8–10)


Brighten a shady area

container with pink flowers and ornamental grass

Brighten a shady space container illustrated and labeled

Chartreuse leaves and variegated foliage are go-to components for brightening a shady space, however the choice of a flax lily and a lime-hued sedge proves that not any previous form will do. The juxtaposition of pointy leaves, mounding blades, and the dangling, earring-like blossoms of the flowering maple remodel this straightforward shade buster right into a container with a sunny disposition.

  1. Variegated flax lily (Dianella tasmanica ‘Variegata’, Zones 8–11)
  2. ‘Everillo’ sedge (Carex oshimensis ‘Everillo’, Zones 6–9)
  3. Fortunate Lantern® Tangerine flowering maple (Abutilon ‘NUABTANG’, Zones 8–11)


Incorporate one conventional plant right into a container that options unusual crops. You’ll be stunned at how a tried-and-true plant can tackle a complete new look when paired with one thing uncommon. Attempt it: You’ll by no means take a look at that previous geranium or decorative grass the identical manner once more.

Pair crops with pots

a group of four containers with various succulents

Pair plants with pots container illustrated and labeled

A artistic ensemble of silver, blue, and purple succulents in harmonious ceramic pots produces a front-door scene with type. Whereas virtually any array of drought-tolerant crops can be interesting, this grouping steps up the artistry by pairing pots and crops that convey out the most effective of each other’s colours.

  1. ‘Afterglow’ echeveria (Echeveria ‘Afterglow’, Zones 9–11)
  2. Blue chalk sticks (Senecio mandraliscae, Zones 10–11)
  3. Echeveria (Echeveria cv., Zones 9–11)
  4. ‘Cape Blanco’ sedum (Sedum spathulifolium ‘Cape Blanco’, Zones 5–9)


*These crops are thought-about invasive in some areas. Please verify invasiveplantatlas.org or your state’s checklist of invasive crops for extra data.


Images: Lynn Felici-Gallant

Illustrations: Elara Tanguy

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